Sardinian-born Federico Congiu works as an executive chef across Rinaldo Di Stasio’s Melbourne restaurants. But during Melbourne’s 2021 lockdown, he swapped upscale Italian dishes for ramen, running a collaborative pop-up at Shujinko’s Elizabeth Street location alongside fellow chef Manato Deleon.
Not long after, they opened this dedicated ramen restaurant, Parco, in Moonee Ponds. Here, all the broths and noodles are made from scratch, and the pair use house-made koji for an umami-bomb effect.
Congiu lived in Japan for two years, which is where his ramen obsession started. Back in Melbourne, he couldn’t find ramen quite like what he experienced in Japan. That’s when he started experimenting at home.
Parco’s thick, creamy centrepiece broth channels one Congiu tried at a high-end yakitori joint. It’s made with chicken offcuts rather than the pork bones, and takes anywhere between eight and 12 hours to achieve the right flavour and consistency.
The signature ramen comes with the aforementioned broth and a choice of charred pork or chicken chashu. There’s also a decadent truffle version; a miso-packed vegan option with a base of shiitake and soy; and a rich lobster ramen crowned with a baby lobster tail. The pair make only one batch a week and it’s first in, first served.
Other than soup, find loaded don (rice bowls), with pork chashu, karaage or kakiage (vegetable tempura). Side dishes include juicy pork or vegan gyoza, and truffle fries.
The majestic figure featured in the branding – and neon sign in the window – is Congiu, reimagined as a lion, slurping noodles. The no-frills space is accented by dark timber, and there are just 19 seats for diners looking to eat in.
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